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Sun 24 Apr 2011 10:04 PM

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Wael Ghonim to take break from Google to set up NGO

Internet giant exec who became hero of Egypt says he has decided to take 'long term sabbatical'

Wael Ghonim to take break from Google to set up NGO
Wael Ghonim. (Getty Images)

Wael Ghonim, the Google executive who became the hero of the Egyptian
revolution, on Sunday said he was to take an extended break from
the internet giant to set up an NGO in Egypt.

"Decided to take a long term sabbatical from @Google & start a
technology focused NGO to help fight poverty & foster education in
#Egypt," Ghonim wrote in a message on Twitter, reported newswire AFP.

Ghonim, Google's head of marketing for the Middle East and North Africa,
administered the Facebook page that helped spark the uprising that
toppled president Hosni Mubarak's regime, it added.

Over the weekend, he was included in Time magazine's latest 100 most influential people list.

Ghonim, who was placed second in the recent Arabian Business Power 500, played a key role in sparking an uprising that led to the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak after a 30-year reign.

He became an international figure after his emotional interview following 11 days of incarceration by Egyptian police.

Egyptian politician Mohamed ElBaradei said of Ghonim: "Wael Ghonim embodies the youth who constitute the majority of Egyptian society — a young man who excelled and became a Google executive but, as with many of his generation, remained apolitical due to loss of hope that things could change in a society permeated for decades with a culture of fear.

"He quickly grasped that social media, notably Facebook, were emerging as the most powerful communication tools to mobilise and develop ideas.

"By emphasizing that the regime would listen only when citizens exercised their right of peaceful demonstration and civil disobedience, Wael helped initiate a call for a peaceful revolution. The response was miraculous."

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